Skip to comments.St. Philip Neri on Sanctification
Posted on 05/26/2006 12:26:09 PM PDT by Pyro7480
"The true way to advance in holy virtues is to persevere in a holy cheerfulness. The cheerful are much easier to guide in the spiritual life than the melancholy.... Excessive sadness seldom spring from any other source than pride. Charity and cheerfulness, or charity and humility, should be our motto. It is very necessary to be cheerful, but we must not on that account give in to frivolity. Frivolity incapacitates a person from receiving any additional spirituality from God. Frivolity also roots up the little a man may have already acquired...."
"Those who pay a moderate attention to the mortification of their bodies, and direct their main intention to mortify the will and understanding, even in matters of the slightest moment, are more to be esteemed than they who give themselves up exclusively to corporal penances. We ought to desire to do great things for the service of God, and not content ourselves with a moderate goodness, but wish, if it were possible, to surpass in sanctity and love even Saint Peter and Saint Paul. Even though a man may be unable to attain such a height of sanctity, he ought to desire it, so as to do at least in desire what he cannot carry out in effect."
I posted this to my blog.
Saint Philip Neri pray for us.
Beautiful artwork on your Blog.
Thanks for posting this. Although I have never heard of St. Philip Neri (not being a Catholic myself), his words on "holy cheerfulness" ring true. Of all people, we Christians ought to be cheerful. As Jesus said to the paralytic, "Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee" (Matthew 9:2).
Thanks for the link. He was a most unusual man and Saint. I intend to borrow his characteristic question: "Well, brothers, when shall we begin to do good?"
May 26, 2007
St. Philip Neri
Philip Neri was a sign of contradiction, combining popularity with piety against the background of a corrupt Rome and a disinterested clergy, the whole post-Renaissance malaise.
At an early age, he abandoned the chance to become a businessman, moved to Rome from Florence and devoted his life and individuality to God. After three years of philosophy and theology studies, he gave up any thought of ordination. The next 13 years were spent in a vocation unusual at the timethat of a layperson actively engaged in prayer and the apostolate.
As the Council of Trent was reforming the Church on a doctrinal level, Philips appealing personality was winning him friends from all levels of society, from beggars to cardinals. He rapidly gathered around himself a group of laypersons won over by his audacious spirituality. Initially they met as an informal prayer and discussion group, and also served poor people in Rome.
At the urging of his confessor, he was ordained priest and soon became an outstanding confessor, gifted with the knack of piercing the pretenses and illusions of others, though always in a charitable manner and often with a joke. He arranged talks, discussions and prayers for his penitents in a room above the church. He sometimes led excursions to other churches, often with music and a picnic on the way.
Some of his followers became priests and lived together in community. This was the beginning of the Oratory, the religious institute he founded. A feature of their life was a daily afternoon service of four informal talks, with vernacular hymns and prayers. Giovanni Palestrina was one of Philips followers, and composed music for the services.
The Oratory was finally approved after suffering through a period of accusations of being an assembly of heretics, where laypersons preached and sang vernacular hymns! (Cardinal Newman founded the first English-speaking house of the Oratory.)
Philips advice was sought by many of the prominent figures of his day. He is one of the influential figures of the Counter-Reformation, mainly for converting to personal holiness many of the influential people within the Church itself. His characteristic virtues were humility and gaiety.
Saint Philip Neri, Priest
The Virgin Appearing to Saint Philip Neri
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo
Oil on canvas, 360 x 182 cm
Museo Diocesano, Camerino
Born at Florence, Italy, July 22, 1515; died May 27, 1595. Philip's family originally came from Castelfranco but had lived for many generations in Florence, where not a few of its members had practiced the learned professions, and therefore took rank with the Tuscan nobility. Among these was Philip's own father, Francesco Neri, who eked out an insufficient private fortune with what he earned as a notary. A circumstance which had no small influence on the life of the saint was Francesco's friendship with the Dominicans; for it was from the friars, that Philip received many of his early religious impressions. Besides a younger brother, who died in early childhood, Philip had two younger sisters, Caterina and Elisabetta. It was with them that "the good Pippo", as he soon began to be called, committed his only known fault. He gave a slight push to Caterina, because she kept interrupting him and Elisabetta, while they were reciting psalms together. One incident of his childhood is dear to his early biographers as the first visible intervention of Providence on his behalf, and perhaps dearer still to his modern disciples, because it reveals the human characteristics of a boy amid the supernatural graces of a saint. When about eight years old he was left alone in a courtyard to amuse himself; seeing a donkey laden with fruit, he jumped on its back; the beast bolted, and both tumbled into a deep cellar. His parents hastened to the spot and extricated the child, not dead, as they feared, but entirely uninjured.
Having studied the humanities under the best scholars of a scholarly generation, at the age of sixteen he was sent to help his father's cousin in business. He applied himself with diligence, and his kinsman soon determined to make him his heir. But he would often withdraw for prayer to a little mountain chapel belonging to the Benedictines of Monte Cassino, built above the harbor of Gaeta in a cleft of rock which tradition says was among those rent at the hour of Our Lord's death. It was here that his vocation became definite: he was called to be the Apostle of Rome. In 1533 he arrived in Rome without any money. He had not informed his father of the step he was taking, and he had deliberately cut himself off from his kinsman's patronage. He was, however, at once befriended by Galeotto Caccia, a Florentine resident, who gave him a room in his house and an allowance of flour, in return for which he undertook the education of his two sons. For seventeen years Philip lived as a layman in Rome, probably without thinking of becoming a priest. It was perhaps while tutor to the boys, that he wrote most of the poetry which he composed both in Latin and in Italian. Before his death he burned all his writings, and only a few of his sonnets have come down to us. He spent some three years, beginning about 1535, in the study of philosophy at the Sapienza, and of theology in the school of the Augustinians. When he considered that he had learnt enough, he sold his books, and gave the price to the poor. Though he never again made study his regular occupation, whenever he was called upon to cast aside his habitual reticence, he would surprise the most learned with the depth and clearness of his theological knowledge.
He now devoted himself entirely to the sanctification of his own soul and the good of his neighbor. His active apostolate began with solitary and unobtrusive visits to the hospitals. Next he induced others to accompany him. Then he began to frequent the shops, warehouses, banks, and public places of Rome, melting the hearts of those whom he chanced to meet, and exhorting them to serve God. In 1544, or later, he became the friend of St. Ignatius. Many of his disciples tried and found their vocations in the infant Society of Jesus; but the majority remained in the world, and formed the nucleus of what afterwards became the Brotherhood of the Little Oratory.
During his last years as a layman, Philip's apostolate spread rapidly. In 1548, together with his confessor, Persiano Rosa, he founded the Confraternity of the Most Holy Trinity for looking after pilgrims and convalescents. Its members met for Communion, prayer, and other spiritual exercises in the church of S. Salvatore, and the saint himself introduced exposition of the Blessed Sacrament once a month. At these devotions Philip preached, though still a layman, and we learn that on one occasion alone he converted no less than thirty dissolute youths. In 1550 a doubt occurred to him as to whether he should not discontinue his active work and retire into absolute solitude. His perplexity was set at rest by a vision of St. John the Baptist, and by another vision of two souls in glory, one of whom was eating a roll of bread, signifying God's will that he should live in Rome for the good of souls as though he were in a desert, abstaining as far as possible from the use of meat.
In 1551, however, he received a true vocation from God. At the bidding of his confessor -- nothing short of this would overcome his humility -- he entered the priesthood. He stayed in church, hearing confessions or ready to hear them, from daybreak till nearly midday, and not content with this, he usually confessed some forty persons in his room before dawn. Thus he labored untiringly throughout his long priesthood.
(Principal source - Catholic Encyclopedia - 1913 edition)
You continually raise up Your faithful
to the glory of holiness.
In Your love
kindle in us the fire of the Holy Spirit
who so filled the heart of Philip Neri.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. +Amen.
First Reading: Philippians 4:4-9
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand. Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, do; and the God of peace will be with you.
Gospel Reading: John 17:20-26
"I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in Me through their word, that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in thee, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent Me. The glory which thou hast given Me I have given to them, that they may be one even as We are one, I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent Me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved Me. Father, I desire that they also, whom thou hast given Me, may be with Me where I am, to behold my glory which Thou hast given Me in thy love for me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world has not known Thee, but I have known Thee; and these know that Thou hast sent Me. I made known to them Thy name, and I will make it known, that the love with which Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them."
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